The Power of Integrative Complexity in Success and Creativity


Hatched by Glasp

Jul 23, 2023

4 min read


The Power of Integrative Complexity in Success and Creativity

In today's fast-paced and ever-changing world, success and creativity have become highly valued attributes. But what if there was a common skill that both successful people and creative individuals possess? Recent studies have shown that those with high "integrative complexity" are more likely to achieve success and demonstrate creativity.

Integrative complexity refers to the ability to develop and hold opposing traits, values, and ideas, and then integrate them into larger ones. This skill allows individuals to appreciate contrasting viewpoints without labeling one as right and the other as wrong. It is the ability to see both the big picture and the granular details, synthesizing perspectives at different levels. In fact, many of the world's top entrepreneurs, such as Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, and Elon Musk, along with Nobel Laureates, possess this rare skill.

Contrary to conventional wisdom in the business world, which encourages doubling down on strengths and mitigating weaknesses, these findings suggest that developing and synthesizing atypical combinations of skills and traits with their opposites can lead to an emergent skill set that is both rare and extremely valuable. Instead of focusing solely on strengths, the focus should be on multiplier skill sets where 1+1 equals 10.

Moreover, the ability to hold conflicting and paradoxical ideologies, thoughts, and values simultaneously is a characteristic of the Self-Transforming Mind, a stage reached by only one percent of the population. This ability to face the tension of opposing ideas and generate a creative resolution that contains elements of both opposing ideas is what sets successful individuals apart. They refuse to make trade-offs and instead seek a better way.

To cultivate this integrative complexity, there are three actionable pieces of advice to consider:

  • 1. Move beyond the strengths-based paradigm of skill development. Instead of solely focusing on strengths, explore and develop atypical combinations of skills and traits with their opposites. This can lead to the emergence of a rare and valuable skill set.
  • 2. Think about what to learn next in a fundamentally different way. In a rapidly changing knowledge economy, the decision of what to learn next is critical. Consider learning the polar opposite of a skill or trait you already possess. This will expand your range of perspectives and enhance your integrative complexity.
  • 3. Listen less to your intuition and more to your counterintuition. Our brains have a tendency to classify others as in-group or out-group, which can impact our perception and motivation. By actively seeking out opposing viewpoints and embracing the tension of conflicting ideas, you can develop a more complex and nuanced understanding of the world.

Now, shifting focus to the realm of content consumption and creation, we enter the era of the curators. With the abundance of information available, the real scarcity is attention. Curators, who possess good taste and can sort through the flood of information, have become the new creators. As consumers, we are willing to pay someone who can curate content for us and help us navigate the overwhelming amount of information at our fingertips.

Zuckerberg's Law, Dunbar's number, and Zipf's Law highlight the challenges of content consumption and the importance of curation. As consumers, we can't absorb everything, so we rely on curators to guide us to what matters most. This has created a market for creators as curators, where curated content can be monetized if it is done well.

The best brands and influencers understand the power of curation as a service. By curating content, they not only save their audience time but also provide a sense of community and intertextuality. Curation becomes a way to shape meaning and build a loyal following.

In conclusion, integrative complexity is a skill that both successful individuals and creative minds possess. It allows them to appreciate contrasting viewpoints, synthesize perspectives, and generate creative resolutions to tensions between opposing ideas. To cultivate integrative complexity, it is important to move beyond the strengths-based paradigm, embrace the tension of opposing ideas, and actively seek out diverse perspectives.

In the realm of content consumption and creation, curators have become the new creators. With the overwhelming amount of information available, consumers rely on curators to guide them to what matters most. By curating content, brands and influencers can build a loyal following and provide a valuable service to their audience.

To thrive in today's world, it is crucial to embrace integrative complexity and recognize the power of curation. By developing this skill and leveraging the expertise of curators, we can navigate the abundance of information and achieve success in both our personal and professional lives.

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